Thursday, 23 October 2014
I wrote an instructable last night which rounds up a lot of my board gaming type posts.
It was also supposed to inspire people to support my jumpstart campaign for Carcassonne files so consider this a gentle nudge for my blog readers too
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
I'm often asked to offer comparison between laser cutters 'X' and 'Y'. I feel it's important to try and offer impartial advice, we do have our own laser importing business after all so it would be very easy to be biased. The trouble is that I'm not sure what people are really asking when they want two machines compared so I thought I'd write a little blog post to talk about the basic comparison and discuss the most important thing that people always overlook.
Laser cutters are often presented alongside a pretty dull technical spec sheet. This is straight forward list of details about laser power, cutting area and cutting speeds, sometimes it also includes price. I would hope that most people are able to do these comparisons for themselves. Bigger cutting area is better, more laser power is better and often comes at an increased price.
This is where the question confuses me. The only information I have about the other laser cutter is this dull spreadsheet which is easy to compare and laser cutters are all very similar mechanically. Big metal box to avoid blinding, check. Laser beams to cut through material, check. Extractor fan to keep air breathable, check. In fact it's the most significant item and the most important detail that is often glossed over on the list or ignored completely. I'm unable to comment/compare the Laser cutter controller if the listing doesn't even tell me what controller it is.
The control software is such a significant part of the whole laser cutter experience I'm completely amazed that some listings don't even mention what the controller is. 90% of the time the laser cutter is a black box on the end of a usb cable, you deal with the software interface to prepare the files you are working on. You need software that is functional and straight forward at the very least. I've seen a laser cutter that had Chinese software called 'Printer Driver', that was all we knew about it and it's impossible to Google that for any more information.
If I were buying another laser cutter I would insist upon knowing what controller it came with in advance. If I can't find any useful resources about that software online I would not purchase the laser, it's a simple as that. Life is too short to faff with badly written software, some of these laser cutter controllers are even described as completely unusable by reviewers. I would even go one step further, if a supplier is unable to provide me with a demo version of the control software it would worry me. Are they trying to hide their bad software or do they just not know how to set up the demo? Either case is pretty bad, and this applies to all manufacturers, cheap eBay lasers and UK importers.
These are standards that I hold our own company to. All of our laser cutters use Lasercut 5.3.I won't lie and tell you it is the greatest software ever written; it is the perfectly acceptable face of cheap laser cutter controllers. We offer a download and demo version of the software so you can check it out before you even get near one of our machines. The community is also pulling together to create some really useful resources for it and are slowly dissecting some of the more complex parts of the system.
- Graham Wideman has an absolute goldmine of useful information
- Nottingham Hackspace covers the day to day operation extremely well
- London Hackspace made great headway figuring out the file format
- Even Just Add Sharks covers the basic drawing operation.
Friday, 17 October 2014
|Image tolen from the interwebz because I forgot this blog post was scheduled but not completed|
Who knows what I'll be doing this time next year but I can tell you, I'm working on some big projects at the moment. I should be displaying more of the parts for you and I can't wait for this first one to be finished because there will be some awesome pictures. I'm also working on open source controllers for laser cutters and some other nifty little tricks you can do with our lasers so it looks like it's going to be another fun year.
Thursday, 16 October 2014
Another quick turn around part for this upcoming cake project. You'll have to trust me that there are laser cut parts in there. I used an arduino to drive the 3 servos; head, tail and foot. Power comes from a small 5V brick and it's connected directly to the mains. Believe it or not this will get covered in icing and become a 'cake', for now it's been sent off to the wizards so they can work their magic.
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
This massive cake stand (1200 long) is a small part of the new project I'm working on. I can't give too many details yet but I just built 20 of these sections all of which will be stacked with cake in the near future. Stay tuned because this project is awesome and huge.
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
It's not just about the things you can make with a laser cutter, the laser can also help you make things to make other things. I've been making these internet boxes for quite some time now, each one has a hole in the top and two holes in the side. I've been drilling them by eye for far too long so I finally got round to building a jig to hold the boxes in the right place for me. The vertical slot lines it up to drill a hole in the top. The horizontal slot is larger than the side of the box, pushing it to the top lines up one hole, pulling it down to the bottom allows the second hole to be placed just above it.
Saturday, 11 October 2014
Last night at Chaosdorf we cut a few little samples to see what would work on the laser cutter. This bottle top was a fantastic success. I'm expecting some awesome things when they start engraving their own logos on to the bottle tops for their home brew (and now I'm home again I'm relaxing and thoroughly enjoying one of the bottles we bought home with us)
Friday, 10 October 2014
Tonight I'm in Germany and more specifically Düsseldorf where we're visiting the Chaosdorf Hackspace. We have just installed a Greyfin laser cutter and they decided to engrave the hackspace logo onto the top of an old IBM thinkpad. They've picked up the software pretty quickly, imported their design and with a few gentle nudges have etched this logo onto the lid of the laptop. After a bit of a cleaning scrub it came out really nicely.
It'll be a fun night here at their social evening and then back to the UK for Dominic and I tomorrow.
Wednesday, 8 October 2014
My black on white, laser engraving laminate finally arrived so I could sit down and do some more of the White Knight Designs. As a game of thrones fan these two really caught my eye and it was good fun putting them through the laser cutter last night. Jordan has been great about sending me higher resolution artwork than I can steal from Facebook so I cut them in duplicate and will be sending the second set in his direction.
In the meantime don't forget about my attempt to jump start my Carcassonne set file release.
Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Nearly a year ago I completed my Laser cut set of Carcasonne, it's been up for sale in my webstore but I am continually asked to release the svg file so people can cut there own. I normally share all my files but I have a few problems with this one, it took 160 hours to draw the base tile set and a further 24 hours to draw the river. I haven't been able to justify giving the file away but with the world being the way it is I can't sell it as a file to individuals because it only takes one person to share the file elsewhere and I've lost all control over it. So I've come up with this 'Jumpstart me' idea.
I'm asking for just £500 (not a lot of 200 hours of work) and when I reach that amount I will release the files to all the people who have contributed towards the total, including the tile backs. 3 months later I will release the files publicly on my blog without tile backs. I will keep this page updated with the running total so you can see how close we are to reaching that total. I have set up a paypal link so you can purchase the files as many times as you like (I'll try to figure out an easier way to send more money), but also because that gives you protection and the right to a refund at any point (although please just ask me because I'll happily return the money without paypal intervention). Let's see if this can work
Purchase the Carcassonne Files here
Current total £190 / £500
The small print
- This is not a good way to recreate your own Carcassonne tiles. This is a deluxe version of the set and will cost far more than buying the basic set.
- If we do not reach the full amount by the 7th Novemeber, I will make the decision to cancel and refund everybody or accept the amount reached and release the files anyway.
- The tiles are done with 3 cut operations, an etch, a low power cut and a high power cut. The low power cut can be very tricky to get right without cutting through the wood.
- The files will come as svg, pdf and dxf. There were made in inkscape so svg is the native file type. pdf actually works as a universal file, the dxf imports into Lasercut 5.3
- Lasercut 5.3 files can be supplied upon request.
- This is not a full game it is a board game accessory, you should still buy an original copy to ensure you have the complete game.
- Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, Z-Man Games or any other publisher please don't sue me for using your artwork, we just love your game and want to make our own awesome versions of it.